Showing posts with label animation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animation. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

A quick chat with Gary Lucas on reviving the Fleischer Brothers cartoon music

by Mike Rhode

Gary Lucas, a New York musician, will be in town this weekend with his tribute to the Fleischer animation studio music heard in Popeye and Betty Boop shorts. His band Gary Lucas Fleischerei has just released a new album Music from Max Fleischer Cartoons from Silver Spring's Cuneiform Records. I've been given a copy of the album and it's a lively, fun interpretation of cartoon music that's not been revived nearly as often as either Disney's or Warner Brothers'.

I'm on jury duty this week, so I'm going to lift a couple of paragraphs from Cuneiform's press release. Original ComicsDC material resumes with a short interview after the italicized text. 

Gary Lucas is one of the great spelunkers of contemporary culture, a fearless explorer who delves into forgotten and overlooked crevices and returns bearing exquisite treasures. His latest project Music from Max Fleischer Cartoons is a particularly spectacular find, a gleaming confection from a hurly-burly era when the Jazz Age crashed into the Great Depression and Tin Pan Alley borrowed shamelessly from Harlem. A 2016 Cuneiform release, the album features songs from Fleischer Studios cartoons originally delivered by actress Mae Questel, who provided the voice and vocals for two beloved but very different characters: the eternally sexy Betty Boop and Popeye’s sometime ‘goilfriend’ Olive Oyl. Finding a singer who could capture the insouciant spirit of Mae Questel while comfortably inhabiting the material proved far more difficult. Lucas turned to his wife Caroline Sinclair, a New York City casting director, who said, “why don’t you let me cast this one?” “That was a good idea,” Lucas says. “Sarah Stiles is really a bundle of fire who can do it all. It was crucial to find a singer who wouldn’t try to hijack the idea and make it about her. We conceived this as a tribute to Mae Questel and the Fleischers. This is about trying to spread Fleischermania.” Part of what makes Stiles such a perfect fit for the material is the way she captures the spirit of the characters. It’s immediately obvious when she’s singing a song associated with the effervescent Ms. Boop and when she’s donning the slippery guise of Ms. Oyl. The album opens and closes with bits lifted from Fleischer productions.


“Fleischer’s animation has a gritty, funky urban sensibility that feeds right into R. Crumb,” Lucas says. “His cartoons had that Jewish and urban wiseguy sensibility. There’s a dark, black humor associated with Eastern European immigrants, and even though I’m from upstate, those are my roots. Betty Boop in particular embodies a knowing sophistication emanating out of Times Square, which was a node of melting pot culture where Broadway, Yiddish theater, and jazz all converged.”

Did you have to have the music transcribed from cartoons, or does written music for the cartoons still exist?

I transcribed and arranged the guitar parts by ear off the soundtracks; I'm not sure how Joe Fiedler who arranged the group parts did it that way, but he could have-- we both have very good ears. I really don't know if any of the cartoon music exists in their original arrangements as written music. It is possible it's filed somewhere, at for the stuff that the assembled studio bands cut in front of the cartoons being projected, photos exist of one of the main composers Sammy Timberg conducting one of these ensembles in a Fleischer cartoons recording session. Some of the music came from actual records of the day that the Fleischer's edited right onto their cartoon soundtracks--such as the "jungle jazz" instrumental tag on "Betty Boop's Penthouse" which FLEISCHEREI perform, which I recently learned comes off a 78 recording of the Mills Blue Rhythm Band entitled "Heat Waves." Perhaps the group re-cut it for the cartoon because it sounds slightly faster on the soundtrack, but, if so, they stuck to the identical arrangement. The connection with current Harlem recording acts is a natural as Mills Blue Rhythm Band were one of the regular ensembles at the Cotton Club uptown.  Paramount was the distributor of the cartoons - and as part of its arrangements with Fleischer Studios, the studio lent some of the artists in their catalog such as Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong to make cameo appearances in the Fleischer cartoons, which were filmed at Paramount Studios in Astoria, Queens. Sometimes these artists toured nationally in the same Paramount theaters that the Fleischer cartoons were screened in, with the cartoons themselves serving as advance publicity for the artist's live appearances.

Did you consider showing the cartoons behind you while you play, as is so popular with symphony orchestras?

Yes we do this, in a roughly synchronized way. As we improvise a lot unlike symphony orchestras it's not easy to always have the right clip on the screen behind us, but I don't think it matters much. It's more about capturing a flavor. We show the intact cartoons also as part of our show.

What did singer Sara Stiles really think when someone asked her to channel Betty Boop's voice?

That someone was I, and Sarah loves Betty Boop's voice. She has no problem channeling it. That is one reason I selected her as the singer.

How has the reception been so far for the tour/album?

We haven't really begun touring this yet. Reaction to the album has been extremely positive.
Do you know who the original composers are?

Yes, and they are duly noted in the booklet credits.

(And so they are. There's a variety of names with Sammy Timberg being credited the most with five songs)

Did you have a hard time convincing the other musicians to join you in this project, or is everyone just seeing it as a fun way to spend a few months?

Everyone in the group loves playing this music. They wouldn't be part of this otherwise.

How does the live audience react?

The reaction has been phenomenal - people love this project, they get off on hearing the music and they adore the cartoons.

Why do you think that Disney and Warner Bros. cartoon music has survived, and relatively prospered, while the Fleischers' was forgotten?

I don't think it was forgotten, I mean, come on - people all over the world know Sammy Lerner's "Popeye the Sailor Man" theme for instance. I just don't' think the music has been effectively  curated (until now!). 

What's your favorite Fleischer cartoon?

1930's "Swing You Singers"  - a surrealist classic.

Favorite animation overall?

Ditto.

I note Robert Crumb is mentioned in your press release; are you a Crumb fan? Have you seen him and his Cheap Suit Serenaders? Have you ever met him and talked music or cartoons?

Yes I love Crumb's work. I never did see his ensemble, although I did see his guitarist, the late Bob Brozman in action, I have never met Crumb alas - but I feel a kindred spirit there. I know he was a HUGE  fan of Max Fleischer!

We now go back to Mr. Lucas' website to round out this post.

Next up, the full swinging FLEISCHEREI 6-piece band will appear along with many classic Max Fleischer cartoons as a special event night at the Washington Jewish Film Festival on Sat. March 5th 8pm at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring Maryland.

Preview the tracks "The Broken Record" and "Ain'tcha" from the new FLEISCHEREI album—
and order the album now!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Post on The Good (not Great) Dinosaur

Is 'The Good Dinosaur' the least imaginative Pixar movie? [in print as PIxar falls into the tar pits of dino story cliches].



Arlo and Forrest Woodbush (aka: The Pet Collector) in "The Good Dinosaur." (Disney/Pixar)

Scientific accuracy is overrated: A paleontologist reviews Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'

Monday, November 02, 2015

DC-area band Exit Vehicles has just released an animated video

They tell ComicsDC:


We released our debut album STAGES in July 2015, and the first of a few music videos was released November 1st, this one for our song Module.


We felt the story for this could only really come across well if a cartoon was made from it, so we contacted a mutual acquaintance whose stuff we liked, Michigan-based artist Matt Rasch. Matt agreed to animate and direct for us in his unique style (http://mattraschart.tumblr.com/). It's just a whimsical cartoon about a monkey rocketing across space and back, and we think it's plenty of fun.

Exit Vehicles - Bandcamp website: https://exitvehicles.bandcamp.com/

Bio:

Exit Vehicles are a DC indie rock four piece who formed in mid-2013 as a project between twin brothers Brian and Adam Polon. After being in several bands and releasing several albums apart, the brothers felt it was finally time to try something together, and quickly sketched out 50 original songs on bass and guitar. The twins met drummer Jacob McLocklin (also in DC's indie/pop/rock outfit Cake and Calculus), and recorded 30 tracks with variations on Soundcloud under the project name The Debuggers (the three bandmembers all work in the DC computer/tech sector). The brothers found singer Brian Easley (a recent DC transplant via Austin and Chicago) through the Internet and began playing a show every month across DC for the next year under the name Exit Vehicles, their homage to science, space, technology, and NASA. Easley is a combat-disabled veteran.

Exit Vehicles recorded STAGES, their first LP, at the Lighthouse Recording Studio in Del Ray, Virginia with Peter Larkin early in 2015. The ten track album is a tribute to the Polon brothers' intricate and complex songwriting, McLocklin's dazzling drumwork, and Easley's visceral lyrics and wiry vocals. The album was also produced by Peter Larkin at The Lighthouse in Del Ray, and mastered by Dave Harris at Studio B in Charlotte, NC. The band's earlier 2014 EP offering – which Natan Press of The Deli Magazine described as "Aggressive yet melodic, progressive yet tight, a solid post-punk rhythm section drives a clean alt/indie sound reminiscent of the best in the city's history" – was recorded at Inner Ear Studio in Arlington, Virginia by Don Zientara. Exit Vehicles only play every month or two around DC, so be on the lookout for the next show! They play next on Saturday, December 12th, 2015 at Iota Club and Cafe in Arlington, VA.

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/exit.vehicles
Twitter: https://twitter.com/exitvehicles
Instagram: https://instagram.com/exitvehicles
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/exit-vehicles

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Obituary for anti-Saturday morning cartoon crusader in the Post


Peggy Charren, 86: Longtime advocate for better children's TV [online as Peggy Charren, advocate for improving children's TV programming, dies at 86]

 
By Matt Schudel
Washington Post January 24 2015
http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/peggy-charren-advocate-for-improving-childrens-tv-programming-dies-at-86/2015/01/23/e5085916-a323-11e4-903f-9f2faf7cd9fe_story.html

"Why can't children's television be more like a good children's library, with lots of diversity," she said in 1983, "and less like the comic-book rack in the local drugstore?"


Friday, February 07, 2014

Express on The Lego Movie

‘The Lego Movie’ Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks
BY KRISTEN PAGE-KIRBY
[Washington Post] Express February 7 2014 p. 15

The Post reviews The Lego Movie

‘The Lego Movie’ review: Toy-themed ad­ven­ture celebrates creativity


Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture - The plastic gang’s all here to save the day: from left, Unikitty (voiced by Alison Brie), Benny (Charlie Day), Emmet (Chris Pratt), Batman (Will Arnett), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jan 18-19: Little Mermaid Jr. on stage in Arlington

The Little Mermaid Jr.

Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Book by Doug Wright
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen Story and the Disney Film produced by Howard Ashman & John Musker and written & directed by John Musker and Ron Clements
January 10-19, 2014
Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre
125 S. Old Glebe Road Arlington, VA 22204
Encore Season 2013 BannerSplash into this classic story of Ariel, the mermaid princess, who wishes to live in the world above rather than the ocean floor. To explore life on land, Ariel disobeys her father, King Triton, and makes a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula. Ransoming her singing voice, she must convince Prince Eric that she is indeed the girl who rescued him or risk losing her voice forever. Sing along to your favorite songs and watch as Ariel, with the help of her friends, tries to break Ursula's curse and win the heart of the Prince. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Warner Bros.' Sylvester in the Naval History and Heritage Command


This is probably in storage down in the Navy Yard. Sylvester was into body piercings earlier than most Americans apparently.

Accession, 2010-96-1
Plaque, Ship, USS Alameda County, AVB-1
24" Diameter x 0.5 "H.
Wood, Paint.

Plaque, Ship, USS Alameda County.
The USS Alameda County was redesignated an Advance Aviation Base Ship in 1957. Prior to that the Alameda was originally designated a Tank Landing Ship LST-32. The Alameda was decommissioned in 1962.

Collection of Curator Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command.

Monday, November 04, 2013

PR: Southern Maryland Comic-Con is THIS SATURDAY!



Card Gaming at Southern Maryland Comic-Con!

High Tide Games will be hosting Magic The Gathering & Fluxx Tournaments through out the day at Southern Maryland Comic-Con! Check out the event page for more details right here!


Important Info


Southern Maryland
Comic-Con

THIS SATURDAY, Nov. 9

10 am - 6 pm

Capital Clubhouse
3033 Waldorf Market Pl
Waldorf, Md 20603

Admission is $10 at the
door or online
at: www.somdcon.com/tickets

Kids 10 & Under FREE



Our Friends' Upcoming Events:

"I Know That Voice" with John DiMaggio
Friday, November 8
http://press.org/events/voice
Washington, DC

Shoff Comics & Sports Card Show!
Saturday, December 7th
http://shoffpromotions.com
Tysons Corner VA

Dead Body Road #1 Release Signing with Justin Jordan
Saturday, December 14th
http://www.thirdeyecomics.com
Annapolis, Maryland

Awesome Con 2014
April 18-20, 2014
http://awesomecondc.com
Washington, DC

Southern Maryland Comic-Con is THIS SATURDAY

Guest Update
Unfortunately, Olivia Olson had to cancel her appearance at the Southern Maryland Comic-Con. So, we called up our friend, voice acting legend Jim Cummings, and he agreed to come to Waldorf on short notice! Jim has appeared in almost 400 roles, and is often associated with Disney. He is best known for voicing Darkwing Duck, Tigger, Pooh, the Tasmanian Devil, Urdnot Wreav from Mass Effect, and Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog.

He has performed in numerous animated Disney and DreamWorks movies including Aladdin, The Lion King, Antz, The Road to El Dorado, Shrek, and The Princess and the Frog. He has also provided voice-over work for video games, such as Kingdom Hearts, Icewind Dale, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, and Splatterhouse. Jim is one of the most talented voice actors in the world.
Schedule
10am - Doors Open
11am - Fluxx & Magic: The Gathering Tournaments (run all day)
12pm - TBA
1pm - Q&A with Jim Zub, writer of Samurai Jack and Skullkickers
2pm - Q&A with Jim Cummings, legendary voice actor
3pm - Carolyn & Joe Show Podcast
3pm - Kids Costume Contest
4pm - Insane Ian Concert
4:30 - Costume Contest

Kids
Remember, kids 10 and under get in FREE! We will also have all-day kids art stations, kids superhero training obstacle course, a kids costume contest, and more!!

Tickets are on sale now at somdcon.com/tickets.


Jim Zub!

Jim Zub is also coming to Southern Maryland Comic-Con! We are so psyched about our Samurai Jack exclusive, we were (somehow) able to talk the writer of the Samurai Jack comic book, Jim Zub, into coming to the con! This is huge! You may also know Jim from his Image Comic, Skullkickers. We will also have Samurai Jack cover artist Bryan Turner from Identity Comics Studio at the con, they will both sign your bo

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Peter Beagle's appearance at AFI

From guest blogger Bruce Guthrie



Peter Beagle's appearance at AFI/Silver last night went well.  He did Q&A and signing after a screening of "The Last Unicorn".

The audience, which had been raised on the book and/or cartoon, saw beyond those and loved every minute of the movie.

Unusual for a film screening, almost everyone at the sold-out 7:15 screening stuck around for the Q&A.  (This was in Theatre II which holds about 250 people.)  The audience was mostly adult although an earlier 4 pm screening had been added and that was apparently more kid-centric.  A lot of questions were about the story or the subsequent pieces in the same universe, but there were also a large number dealing with the other things he had written.  He was enjoyable to listen to and his publishing partner, Connor Cochran, filled in details and interesting subtexts.

The line of fans when I left during the signing around 10 looked like it would go on for at least an hour.  I found both Peter and Connor to be very personable and approachable and enjoyed myself considerably despite my lack of familiarity. 


--
Bruce Guthrie
Photo obsessive
http://www.bguthriephotos.com
__._,_.___
__,_._,___

Friday, May 03, 2013

1976 Dental Health campaign

In 1976, the American Dental Association sponsored a National Children's Dental Health Week. This advertisement shows a cartoon done by animation shop Rick Reinert Productions and is from U.S. Navy Medicine (February 1976).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Awesome Con - a couple or three Sunday pictures

101_5545 Phil LaMarr Carolyn Belefski and Joe Carabeo

Phil LaMarr, Carolyn Belefski and Joe Carabeo.

101_5543 Cuddles and Rage aka Liz and Jimmy Reed

Cuddles and Rage webcomickers, aka Liz and Jimmy Reed.

101_5544 Phil LaMarr talking to Carolyn Belefski

Animation voice actor Phil LaMarr talking to Carolyn Belefski.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seth MacFarlane in today's Examiner

In today's Washington Examiner (February 22, p. 20), there's an Associated Press interview by Sandy Cohen, in which Seth MacFarlane is asked about doing both his animation voice work and his Academy Award presenter jobs.

The article is also excerpted in the Express, which leaves out the animation question.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Superhero contest answers, Escape from Planet Earth, and the Walking Dead in today's Post

Style Invitational Week 1009: What's in a name, plus the winning super- (and not-so-super-) heroes.
By Pat Myers, Washington Post February 17 2013
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/style-invitational-week-1009-whats-in-a-name-plus-the-winning-super--and-not-so-super--heroes/2013/02/14/98cf38d0-7413-11e2-aa12-e6cf1d31106b_story.html - and don't forget that Bob Staake has done the illustrations for this contest for around a decade. The honorable mentions seem to only be in the print edition, and include my neighbor Larry Yungk's Bleeperman.

'Escape From Planet Earth' movie review
By Michael O'Sullivan, February 15 2013
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/escape-from-planet-earth-movie-review/2013/02/15/a8079568-779c-11e2-8f84-3e4b513b1a13_story.html

and for the record:

McIntyre, Gina / Los Angeles Times.  2013.
Steven Yeun 'the heart' of 'The Walking Dead'.
Washington Post (February 17)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Bambi wants YOU

Bambi Disney prevent forest fires poster

Disney's Bambi "Protect Our Forest Friends" by preventing wildfire poster, in Skyline, Falls Church, VA.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Feb 13-18: Disney on Ice returns

Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove - A Live Celebration of Disney's Animated Gems! will be at the Verizon Center from February 13-18th. $20-$75 for tickets. Save $5 with "Examiner" offer code.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Madagascar 3 voice actor article in today's Express

Page-Kirby, Kristen.  2012.
The Man Behind Melman: Schwimmer adds life to the giraffe in the third 'Madagascar.'
Express (June 8): 27

Monday, April 30, 2012

Meet a Local Animator: Neil Dittbenner


Neil Dittbenner was one of the local animators* at Gigacon at the Art Institute of Washington (which is actually in a lovely facility in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington) this past January who kindly answered my usual questions.

Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Neil Dittbenner: I am a Flash animator at Latman Interactive. I also do freelance work for animation studios in the D.C Metro area.


How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I enjoy experimenting with different mediums but, my tool of choice is Flash.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in Kansas City on May 31, 1986


Why are you in the Washington sphere now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?
I moved to the area as a teenager and then attended The Art Institute of Washington. After school I stayed in the area working  as a subcontractor and freelance artist.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

Lots of television as a child and BFA from The Art Institute of Washington in Media Arts and Animation.

Who are your influences?

I'm a huge fan of Jim Smith and John K. They had a pretty big influence on my style and taste in humor.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I'm happy with where my life is heading right now. The path I choose may have been bumpy but it lead me to the right place in the end so, I don't think I would do-over or change anything.

What work are you best-known for?

I did some freelance work for PBS Kids through a local studio called Karptoons. It was a great project and the end results were really creative and fun.

What work are you most proud of?

I have a side project about carnivals, magic, and love that I'm working on that I'm pretty excited about. My personal projects give me a great sense of accomplishment.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I'm really happy with the jobs I'm working currently but, I'm hoping to work on children's books or web comics in the future.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I find that just taking a break from art for a couple minutes lets your brain relax. Once I'm relaxed ideas seem to come more easily because I'm not forcing creativity.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

The Internet is becoming the center of entertainment for a lot of people. It's cheaper and easier to watch things on Netflix and Youtube than it is on cable and with a lot of newer televisions becoming Internet capable online content is growing more important. I think short online animations are a good bet for the future.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

I think my favorite thing about DC has to be the National Zoo. It is a great place to sketch and people watch. Plus it's totally free which is a major plus.

Least favorite?

High cost of living and traffic are really awful here. I could easily live without either of those.

What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
The Natural History Museum is always a big hit with out-of-town guests. The dinosaurs and animals never get old.

Favorite restaurant?

The Burger Joint chain is fantastic.

Do you have a website or blog?

www.dittbenner.com and these are some other goodies to check out www.latman.com, and www.Karptoons.com

 *Since he's an animator, you should definitely check out his website to view his cartoon work.